USOC chooses Chicago as U.S. applicant city for 2016 Olympics
April 15, 2007 (WASHINGTON) (WLS) -- The U.S. Olympic committee has chosen Chicago over Los Angeles as America's candidate city to host the 2016 Olympics.
From Midwestern values to a modern city, spectacular skyline, powerful political leadership and can-do attitude, all of those things influenced the U.S. Olympic committee Saturday and helped Chicago grab the gold in this U.S. Competition.
This has been unlike any competition Mayor Daley has ever been involved in.
"I was nervous as heck before," said the mayor. "I was very, very nervous. That's why I jumped right out of the seat. I was like a little kid watching the Olympics."
Watch the official USOC announcement
It is that spirit, Olympic officials say, that helped convince them Chicago is the best city to compete internationally to host the 2016 games. But, it was also the city's compact plan that calls for athletes to stay and play in the heart of downtown Chicago that helped the Windy City edge out Los Angeles. The USOC loves the idea of lakefront venues and the so-called 'live site' in grant park where the world can come together and celebrate the olympic movement. Five hundred million dollars in taxpayer-backed financial guarantees also took some of the uncertainty out of going with Chicago, a city that still has to build 32 percent of its venues, including the Olympic village and stadium.
"I believe they gave our board a level of assurance that might have been the differentiation between the cities," said USOC Vice President Bob Ctvrtlik.
"The city would have to be a blithering idiot not to be able to put on Olympic games and have a surplus," said Peter Ueberroth, chairman of the USOC.
To put it in political terms, think of this as the primary election, and then we have the general election coming up in October of 2009. That's when the International Olympic Committee will announce which city will actually host the games. Chicago's international competitors are expected to include Madrid, Rio de Janeiro, Rome and Tokyo.
A Conversation with Mayor Daley
Ben Bradley: Mayor, I've seen you on a lot of election nights. You're grateful when you win on election nights. I've never seen you jump out of your chair and pump your fists!
Mayor Daley: This is an exciting day for Chicago. The whole committee came together. They had a lot of passion, a lot of spirit about the presentation, about our plan for the 2016 Olympic games. To me, that's what it was. We did our best. Whether we won or lost, we know we did our best. We know we made the best presentation.
Ben Bradley: You gave an hour-long presentation to the board earlier today and then you had a 3-and a-half-hour wait. I saw you and Maggie go for a walk. What was that wait like for you?
Mayor Daley: I walked out, and I met two people from Chicago and they said 'Are we going to win it?' Then, we walked out of the restaurant, three people from Chicago came by and asked the same question. So, it's a 'we' thing. And, it was a waiting process. Of course, this is the process you have to go through. It's very suspenseful. I didn't know what was going to happen.
Ben Bradley: The U.S. Olympic committee said the financial guarantees were key. It really gave them comfort with Chicago's bid, and then the head of the USOC said, 'You'd have to be a blithering idiot not to make money on the Olympics . . . .'
Mayor Daley: I want to tell people the business community is really unique in Chicago, more than any other city in the world. They really get behind projects like this, and something that's going to be good for Chicago. They don't have to, but they wanted to do this. A lot of financial people really came together, and said let's look at it completely different than what took place in the in any city in America or the world.
Ben Bradley : Longtime Olympic watchers say the U.S. is due but there's good competition from Rio de Janeiro. Do you view Rio as our chief competition?
Mayor Daley: Rio, Tokyo and Madrid are great cities. Every country is very proud of their city. But, we want to show that this is an American city. We want all of America to get behind this idea of having the Olympics in 2016, regardless of international politics or national politics. It doesn't matter. We want to show the best of a city that has a history of immigration and a history of migration from the south that make it what it is today.
Mayor Daley called this one of his big highlights of his 18 years in office, and he said it is going to be a highlight for all Chicagoans because of the nature of hosting the Olympic games and legacy that it leaves behind.
The Governor's Reaction to the news
Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich calls Saturday's decision by the USOC a historic day for Chicago and the state of Illinois.
In a written statement, the governor said, 'Chicago is a world class city, a great sports town and the perfect place to host the Olympics. It's a city filled with immigrants from all over the world, and the logical location for athletes from around the world to compete in the ultimate international sports event.'
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